This past weekend was a whirlwind of activity of emotion. There were lots and lots of tears. Both from laughter and sadness.
As mentioned prior, last Saturday my wonderful Grandfather passed away. His funeral and viewing were this past Friday and Saturday. As the reason for the grand gathering of my family was to honor Grandpa, I suppose I should focus there tonight.
Grandma wanted fine weather, but it was a cold white weekend. A gentle comforting snow fell during all the burial traditions; the viewings, the funeral service and the burial service, silencing the world around us. It was as if the weekend was perfectly preserved in a snow globe memory. The snow enveloped it and set it apart from the rest of the week leading up to and following the funeral. Such a sweet and tender snow it will always remain in my mind. It seemed to close off all the rest of the world. All the distractions and trials were shut out for a time as we focused beneath that hallowing snow.
Friday night was the viewing. Most of my family had arrived by that time, and we met up at the church to honor Grandpa. There had been a wedding scheduled for the same time and place, and we wondered how that would play into everything, but the wedding reception had been moved so we had the church to ourselves.
I have never been to a viewing like this one. Grandpa's life was set up on display in the hall, and the line to see him nearly went out the door of the church. He had touched so many people in his life and all wanted to pay their respect to my grandmother. I learned a lot about Grandpa that I hadn't known prior. In high school he had lettered in every sport. When he was in college at USU he walked on to the basketball team. He was a hard worker (I already knew that) and so proud of his posterity. He was richly blessed with family. Not including spouses of his children, grandkids or great grandkids, he has 102 descendants. 7 children, 37 grandchildren, 57 great grandchildren and 1 great great grandchild. Pictures of most everyone were displayed. Obviously with so many people in the family (again, I am not counting spouses, so there is quite a bit more than that) getting a photo with everyone there was incredibly difficult. Of the pictures of Grandpa's youth, it was fun to see which ones resembled some of my cousins so much.
As the line slowly swept us from the front doors of the church, through the hall and past the displays which signified his life, I had the chance to mingle with many people. Stories of Grandpa were filing the building and people were smiling, lost in their memories. Some of his favorite sayings were posted throughout, making us laugh and sparking some really good conversations. I guess Grandpa was known for saying to my cousins (though I never heard him say it to me) "Don't take any wooden nickles." No one quite knew what he meant by that, so we speculated. He often said "The dullest pencil is better than the sharpest mind" and "Grab your coat and get your hat, leave your worries on the doorstep and direct your feet to the sunny side of the street." He was always full of such wisdom. He told me so many times that I was so lucky to have been born into such a strong family with the gospel. To have such a rich heritage and so many people to teach me and love me. He certainly spoke the truth there! "A mission for the Lord is worth four years of college." His testimony shone so brightly and he was never shy about sharing it with us.
When I finally got up to the casket I was surprised to see Grandpa. He didn't look at all the way he did in life. His face was almost foreign to me. Even when he was asleep his face was much softer and more loving than it was lying in the casket. That is when the tears spilled over. I hadn't cried much for Grandpa. I didn't feel sad for him. He had been in a lot of pain and had been slowly losing his strength to the point he couldn't stand any more. I knew he was happy. When I learned of his death, I was more concerned for Grandma than I was sad for him. Sure, I knew I would miss him, but I wasn't sorry for him to be gone as I knew it was better this way. But seeing him looking so silent and empty was hard. Grandma saw my tears and smiled through her hug, telling me she had done a good job of not crying all night, but couldn't keep her tears back if she saw mine. We clung to each other for a bit and then I moved down the line.
We left the viewing with the snow muting the busy sounds of the street, flocking the moment like a Christmas card. It snowed all through the night and continued the next morning, awakening us with the squeals of our happy children playing playing in it, as children do.
Saturday we met up at the funeral. I was late because Beth decided to eat right when we were heading out the door, so I didn't get to sit with the family. Jeffrey and I found a seat in the very back but it didn't matter, as I got to hear many more fun stories about him and I was so proud of my heritage. We are related to the Queen of England, you know. Royal blood courses through these veins! At one point, all my cousins got up to sing, but Beth was being fussy, so I stayed in the back, rocking her, trying to calm her, secretly grateful I was not up there as I could not contain the steady stream of tears coursing down my cheeks. I don't do well at funerals. I never have. Especially if it is for someone I love. It was a lovely service, and I hope Grandpa got to attend.
And then we were off to the graveyard.
And then we were off to the graveyard.
The respect the veterans who preformed the salute showed to my grandpa and the love they shared was very humbling. I don't think there was a dry eye as Taps was played on the bugle. On behalf of the President of the United States, my grandmother was presented with a flag and some brass pieces (I think, I couldn't hear very well) as Grandpa was "going to shore for the last time". The grave was dedicated and we reverently left his final earthly resting place.
I wish I could have stayed longer, but it was again time to feed the baby, so Jeffrey and I hurried back to the van and away from the cemetery to find a quiet spot to feed Beth and ponder on the weekend's activities. As we drove home, the burial of my grandfather complete, the snow stopped falling, thus enshrouding the whole experience in the snow globe of my cherished memory.